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Heli Tourism

Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 203

JULY 2010

A feast of regattas

Kerala is gearing up to enthrall the thousands that flock every year to some of its famous venues for regatta. And if you happen to be in Kerala during the months of July / August, it would be worth the effort to check out some of the venues of these magnificent boat races that are true festive occasions that eventually end up as cherished memories, year after year.

Once the southwest monsoon starts to recede, the backwaters of Kerala come alive with hectic activities. Most of the spectacular boat races happen in and around the backwaters of Alappuzha. Several days prior to the race day itself, if one is to take a walk along the sides of the canals and backwaters out here in Alappuzha, he could witness activities that range from fine tuning and maintenance of boats, especially that of the majestic chundan vallom (snake boat); oarsmen practicing as a team; teams taking food together in between trial runs and discussing race strategies to be adopted.

And for those who are going to be here in Kerala during the months of July / August Kerala this year, you stand a good chance to enjoy the spectacular regattas viz. the Nehru Trophy boat race, the Payippad boat race and the Aranmula boat race.

Nehru Trophy boat race
The Nehru Trophy boat race is the greatest of regattas on the backwaters of Kerala. Held annually on the backwaters of Punnamada, close to the town of Alappuzha, this race is held on the second Saturday in the month of August, every year. Majestic chundan vallom (snake boat), teams compete for the prized trophy instituted by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. The race begins with a traditional pageantry on the back water.

This is one such unique sporting event cherished by Keralites of all age groups. Apart from the locals, the spirit and enthusiasm that form part of the Nehru Trophy boat race is also shared by visitors from far off places. It is a sheer delight for the onlookers to watch the snake boats with 80 to 100 oarsmen aboard, who dip their oars in unison as the snake boat glides and cuts the water surface at a tremendous pace.  And winning the race is a matter of pride and glory to each participating team and healthy rivalries are visible on the race day.

Event Date: 14 August 2010

Getting there:

Nearest railway station: Alappuzha, about 8 km away.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alappuzha.

Payippad boat race
Exuding team spirit and a zeal to win, the teams participating in the annual boat race held on the Payippad River in Alappuzha district is a real crowd puller. As the competing boats set up the pace, the tempo is picked up by the thousands witnessing it who give out the loudest of cheers to their favourite teams. This in turn enlivens the spirits of the oarsmen, resulting often in tight, photo - finish races.

Event Date: 25 August 2010

Getting there:

Nearest railway station: Harippad, about 5 km away.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alappuzha.

Aranmula boat race
It is a magnificent and colourful regatta, which stands out for its traditional values rather than meeting the objectives of a typical race. Aranmula vallamkali (vallamkali means boat race) is a boat race that owes its genesis to an Onam tradition associated with the presiding deity of the Parthasarathy Temple in the village of Aranmula - Lord Krishna. It is literally an oblation to Lord Krishna by the devotees and is held during the festival season of Onam on the day of Uthritathi (denoted by the Uthritathi asterism). On the race day, beautifully decorated majestic snake boats from surrounding villages with oarsmen singing songs in the genre of Vanchipattu gather on the race course in Pamba River, near the Parthasarathy Temple.

The proceedings of the race commence with a grand pageantry of the snake boats participating in the race, which often turns out to be the spectacular part of the whole event. This session is followed by preliminary rounds of competing snake boats leading to the final showdown. The snake boats competing in this race are called Palliyodams. The race finishes at a point near the temple ghat, which usually would have a pavilion for spectators to enjoy the final stages of the boat race.

Event Date: 27 August 2010

Getting there:

Nearest railway station: Chengannur, about 10 km away.
Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 117 km away.
District Tourism Promotion Councils KTDC KTIL Thenmala Ecotourism Promotion Society BRDC Sargaalaya SIHMK Responsible Tourism Mission KITTS Adventure Tourism Muziris Heritage saathi nidhi Sahapedia
Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, Park View, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India - 695 033
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